—How to make smart choices to avoid risks and enjoy the benefits
Medical experts generally recommend that pregnant women refrain from using a spa, or at least do so very sparingly.
Let’s dive a bit deeper to better answer this question. Let’s help cut the confusion surrounding concern over whether or not it is safe to use a spa while pregnant.
Risks Associated With Spas and Hot Tubs and Pregnancy
Water Temperature vs. Body Temperature
No matter what body of water you are sitting in, if it is warmer than the temperature of your body, over time, it will inevitably raise your core temperature.
Health guidelines advise states that becoming overheated in a hot tub is not recommended during pregnancy. Specifically, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) caution pregnant women to keep their core temperatures below 102.2-degrees Fahrenheit.
Most modern spas limit the water to 104-degrees Fahrenheit. However, even a 102-degree environment can boost your core temperature above the safety threshold in as little as 10 minutes.
Let’s begin with what you should know about the first trimester of pregnancy.
Entering the spa during these three months can be especially dangerous. That’s because the heat can be detrimental to your baby’s developing nervous system.
A number of health studies have shown an increased risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, when women in the first trimester are exposed to water temperatures of 101-degrees or higher.
Other research has shown that immersion in hot water is a potential cause for various birth defects—and in the worst-case scenario, loss of pregnancy.
However, as you reach the start of the second trimester, circumstances change. At this stage, your baby’s spine will be fully formed. As a result, the developing baby is far less vulnerable to harm from increases in core body temperature.
Another concern about soaking in a spa during pregnancy is the potential presence of harmful microorganisms in the water.
Spas at public aquatic facilities, such as gyms or community pools, may not be correctly maintained. But it’s nearly impossible to tell. Do you want to take a chance soaking in what could be a pathogen-rich environment?
These warm pools of water can be Petri dishes for a variety of bacteria and viruses. Microorganisms like these can pose a risk to healthy adults—let alone someone pregnant.
Of course, if you own a private spa at home, you are better off. You control the environment and can ensure regular water-quality management for a clean, healthy aquatic experience.
When it comes to maintaining a spa, consistency is critical. Make sure to routinely check the water chemistry.
You can use tools such as water test strips. They will help you gauge the levels of chlorine, bromine, pH, alkalinity, and cyanuric acid.
With test results, you know if the levels are where they should be for optimal water quality— or if you need to add any chemicals to balance the water.
<H2> How to Use a Hot Tub or Spa Safely While Pregnant
As a general rule, we recommend that you do not use a spa during your first trimester.
Even if you are only immersed in hot water for a few minutes or you know the water is properly sanitized, every human body is different and therefore may react differently. The last thing you want is to overheat quicker than you anticipate.
If you truly feel the need to take a good relaxing soak, we recommend an alternative: Dip your feet in heated water instead, as a warm foot bath can also provide many health and relaxation benefits.
Now, of course, if you are past your first trimester and you want to take a dip in the spa, here are a few tactics to keep in mind:
- Try picking a seat on the opposite side of the spa in the spots that are not hit by any hot water jets.
- Get out every ten minutes to take a break and cool off before re-entering.
- If you begin feeling dizzy or nauseous, exit the spa immediately. Then monitor your body condition to make sure you feel normal again.
- Never use the spa if you are feeling feverish.
- Most spas have a bench. If so, sit there so your chest can remain above the water instead of immersing your entire body—which can more easily lead to overheating.
It should go without saying, but when possible, it’s best to keep the water temperature fairly low. According to experts, that number should be under approximately 98 degrees. Doing so can reduce some of the risks outlined.
<H2> Alternatives to Hot Tub and Spa Use While Pregnant
One of the safest and most similar spa alternatives for pregnant women is a warm bath. During pregnancy, warm water baths offer plenty of health and relaxation benefits—but without the same risks associated with heated spas.
Now, you will want to make sure that the water is warm—not hot. Here’s why: Sitting in a tub with hot water defeats the purpose of it being an alternative.
If you own a private spa or hot tub, you have a related approach. Use the spa, but keep the water temperature to a maximum of 98 degrees.
A good tip is to keep a cold glass of water within arm’s reach to help you keep cool. Should you begin feeling dizzy, nauseous, or uncomfortable for any reason, immediately exit the water!
If a warm bath or temperature-controlled private spa is not an option, we recommend going for a hot foot soak instead.
You can do so while enjoying a magazine or having a cup of warm tea. Not only will you get to enjoy the relaxation of warm water without the associated risks, but you can also add a bit of Epsom salt to reduce the pain connected to foot and ankle swelling that often accompany pregnancy.
<H2> Final Verdict: Is It Safe?
Here is the bottom line: If you are in your first trimester, avoid entering a spa altogether. The risks are simply far too high.
On the other hand, if later on in your pregnancy, you decide to take a warm soak in a spa, always make sure to exercise caution and limit your time spent in heated water.
Pregnancies are unique for everyone. Therefore, be sure to speak with your doctor beforehand about any special conditions you may have with your pregnancy.
Get his or her approval and any advised restrictions before using a spa. Then during pregnancy, you can be confident knowing when and how to enjoy the comfort of a spa.